I’m delving around my (now heat-addled) brain to try and explain a character trait that I’ve always ‘suffered’ from: split personality. Now – I’ve just googled this and I hasten now to add, I am not mentally ill (despite what people say – ha!) what I mean is, I have two very different sides to my personality.
If I was less cynical I might put this down to me being a Gemini.
Up A Tree
I remember my 10th birthday party very well. All my classmates came along to the party I’d begged my parents for and I chose to spend it sat alone in a big lilac tree in the garden; I was literally watching from afar. I sat up there in a purple party dress that matched the lilac blooms emerging and was perfectly content to simply be an observer. Nothing would persuade me down.
I know that I adopt this approach as an adult – perhaps not physically (I’m not sure I could even climb a tree nowadays), but I am often feel myself detaching from the person or people I’m with, chatting and nodding but not really THERE.
On A Chair
Cut to me, three years later – I am standing on a rickety, wooden school-chair doing impersonations of teachers and telling jokes – I’m talking fast and wild and loud. I have the crowd in my hands. Look at ME!
This is sometimes who I am as an adult too; desperate to be heard and craving attention (but, I fear, far less amusing than I was as a teenager).
The issue is that I am both these people. I swing from one extreme to the other and struggle with toeing the middle line; the line of normality and rationality. It can be a problem if I’ve been the ‘on a chair’ person with somebody on the first meeting and then the ‘up a tree’ for the second – people often take this as aloofness or dislike. The other way round and they think I’ve been drinking!
If I was one way all the time I would develop certain strategies for dealing with situations. It only dawned on me recently that what I actually need is two strategies for each situation, depending on what my predominant mood happens to be. Reading this back it sounds so obvious, but I have honestly only just figured this out. My armoury for dealing with life needs to be diverse and adaptable – the tools I’ve used for fixing things so far has only been working half the time and now I know why.
Personifying the different me’s by referencing thse childhood examples has really helped. For example, one of the things I’m learning to do now is not use my inner voice to shout or criticise myself if I’m in my Up A Tree place. This just leads to a downward spiral of self-loathing – the On A Chair me can take it, and requires it, to get results but I need to know when to engage my gentler inner-critic.
Am I making any sort of sense? Hopefully I am – it’s helped me to write it down like this anyhow. I guess we’re all multi-faceted to some degree and have various aspects to our personality. Do you find yourself dealing with a number of different yous?